Vice President Joe Biden suggests Iowa’s Republican senator is a leading architect of health care reform.
"In the senate, a Republican conservative senator named Grassley from Iowa — ranking member of (the Senate) Finance (Committee) — is working very closely with a centrist senator named Baucus, the chairman (of the Finance Committee) from Montana," Biden said during a telephone conference call with "regional" reporters. "…Both liberals and conservatives are focusing on this because they realize it’s a fiscal issue as well."
According to Biden, there’s "a confluence of interests" as business groups want congress to address the skyrocketing costs of providing health care benefits to their workers and other groups, including unions, want congress to ensure Americans who aren’t covered today get health care coverage. Biden will attend a meeting Thursday with President Obama and other White House officials to discuss health care reform.
"Here you had over the last I think it was eight years health care premiums have gone up 58 percent…If you look at the (federal) budget and you look at the line on a graph as the increased costs in Medicare and Medicaid — it (exponentially) increases (and) is unsustainable," Biden said. "So there’s a consensus now that we have to deal with it…in terms of fiscal responsibility."
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Harkin, is part of another working group of senators tackling the topics of wellness, prevention and public health. According to Biden, those are critical elements to meet savings goals.
"For example we spend, if my memory serves me correctly and this is off the top of my head, I think it’s 72 cents of every dollar we spend in health care is spent on chronic disease," Biden said. "We don’t manage chronic disease very well at all, so there’s a lot of savings here if we’re willing to tackle prevention and modernization."
Click on the audio link below to listen to all of what Biden had to say in a half-hour long conference call. Subjects ranged from health care reform to the Detroit bailout to the federal stimulus package.